New vistas for India {International institutions}

Context

This article talks about the international organization SCO and India’s concern to it

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the St.Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in June 2002, and entered into force on 19 September 2003. This is the fundamental statutory document which outlines the organisation’s goals and principles, as well as its structure and core activities.

The Shanghai Main Goals 

  • Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states;
  • Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas;
  • Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region;
  • Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.

What is its agenda?

The agenda of the nascent SCO was shaped under the Shanghai Five Mechanism to include violent liberation movements and counter-terrorism efforts.

The SCO also served as a platform to facilitate warmer ties among its countries by enhancing cooperation on the economic, technology, culture, energy and other fronts, subsequently helping China resolving its border problems with the Central Asian region.

The SCO aims to create a ‘fair and rational new international political and economic order’.

What is India’s role in the SCO?

The SCO granted India and Pakistan full membership in 2017. After inclusion, both India and Pakistan are expected to participate in the activities of the SCO Secretariat in Beijing.

While the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) provides a rare platform for regional cooperation to counter-terrorism, it also brought into focus the different views the two countries have on terrorism. Yet in September, India and Pakistan will join other SCO members in counter-terrorism exercises.

Currently

• the SCO comprises eight member states, namely the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan;

• the SCO counts four observer states, namely the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran and  the Republic of Mongolia;

• the SCO has six dialogue partners, namely the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Importance of the upcoming summit in Qingdao

The June summit will be the first major multilateral meeting since the re-election of Russian President Vladimir Putin where he is likely to push for Iran’s formal entry into the organization.

This could signal a coming together of SCO members against the unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

This will also be an opportunity for India, China and Russia to reset regional ties, helping them navigate the adverse impacts of U.S. Treasury sanctions.

India especially appears to be under pressure from the U.S. on its trade with Iran, as it is also an MNNA (Major Non-NATO Ally) of the U.S. and has held ‘Quadrilateral’ talks with the U.S., Australia, and Japan in 2017. The next summit will therefore provide the space for urgent consultations on India’s “plurilateralism”, a term that has been used to characterise India’s current foreign policy.

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